Making College A Safe Experience Part 4

There are many areas of life in which you can be vulnerable. Up until now we have been discussing threats to your physical person. Now we would like to talk a little bit about protecting your personal identity as another way of making college a safe experience.

Protect Your Identity

Identity theft is on the rise. Crooks can take your private information, pretend to be you and make expensive purchases on your credit cards. After a criminal has your information, they can do a tremendous amount of damage to you financially. It is difficult to get the mess they make straightened out, so it is always better to be proactive and protect yourself against identity theft.

Personal Information

Never give out your social security number to other students, or to anyone on campus who claims to need it. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet. If you lose the wallet or it is stolen, whoever has it will then have it.

Avoid giving out personal information over the phone or in person. Someone may be scamming you, or listening in to your conversation. Only give out your information in a private school office, where you are certain that it is safe to do so.

Shred all of your personal mail and other documents that have private information on them. Tearing a document in half is not enough. Anyone could tape it back together and have access to your data.

If you do not receive a regular credit card bill or bank statement, check into it. Make sure the mail is just late, and that nobody has stolen it. These items can offer a criminal a lot of personal information about you. Always review your statements, and if anything seems wrong, contact the bank or card company immediately to discuss it.

Go to your bank to pick up checks instead of having them sent in the mail. Don’t give a thief the opportunity to end up with your checkbook.  Do not have your social security number or driver’s license number printed on your checks. If necessary, you can include those numbers on a check you are writing, but they should not be listed on blank checks.

Computer Security On Campus

There are some simple steps that everyone should take to help ensure their identity remains safe.

Memorize all of your passwords. Unless you completely know it to be trustworthy, it is better to not allow a website to ‘remember’ and save your log in information. It is always safer to be sure the settings force you to log in every time you visit.

Watch for fake emails that may try to “phish” you for information. You may receive an email that appears to be from a website that you use, such as EBay, Amazon or a credit card company. But be aware, these may be phony emails that will take you to a duplicate site. Once you’ve input your personal information, the criminal who created the mirror site will have it and be able to use it. This is why you should always log in directly at the home page of any website you visit. Never input your log on information after clicking on a link to any website. When you receive an email that asks you to click on a link and then log on, alert the company that supposedly sent it. They may be able to help put a stop to the problem.

Unless you know for sure it is legitimate reason from a legitimate site, do not fill out forms or surveys that request personal information. Many of these sites are designed to collect your private data. At best it might be used to spam your mailbox, at worst it could be used to steal your identity.

Only make online purchases with websites that you know offer secure checkout procedures. If you are not certain, do not give out your credit card details. It is better to be safe and buy from a reputable site where your information will remain secure and private.

 

For more information about college campus safety, please visit the national crime prevention council web site at: http://www.ncpc.org/training/campus-crime-prevention

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